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Review: Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch

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Samsung Galaxy Gear
Move over Dick Tracy, now everyone has a shot at owning some pretty cool wrist tech! Well sort of. Samsung has released their new Galaxy Gear Smartwatch to accompany their already popular Galaxy phones. There are some ups and downs but let’s take a look at it from “outside of the box” (from all angles).

Does it look cool on your wrist? Yes. It really does kind of give you that Dick Tracy (or Tony Stark) kind of feel when you look down at it. It feels very “techy” when wearing it and for the most part stylish (depends on what you find to be stylish really).

It feels very sturdy and well built. Like any new smartphone, the glass is strong and very durable to scratches or scuffs. The watch is water-resistant which is obviously very important. 

The watch straps come in a variety of colors: Jet Black, Lime Green, Wild Orange, Mocha Gray, Rose Gold and Oatmeal Beige (which is the closest you will get to “white”). All options come with the same silver watch face except for the the gold one, where the face is gold themed and the strap is the same as the oatmeal beige.

There are *many* basic watches on the market that share the same size, so it’s not overly bulky or distracting. However, it is a *tad* larger than some may want. We would prefer it to be slightly smaller personally, but that would also effect the touch functionality of the device as well as a smaller screen would mean smaller text which may limit the niche a little (not everyone has 20/20 vision).

The actual  screen itself is a 1.6″ (inch) Super AMOLED display. It is easy on the eyes and looks (for the most part) just as sharp as your phone. Also inside you will find a 800MHz processor, 512MB ram, 720p camera, light sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope.

Call quality is amazing (not just for a watch, but for any mobile device). Yes, that’s right…you really CAN make (or take) phone calls from the watch itself. Quality is at par with your phone for both yourself and the person on the other end of the call. It has a little speaker built right into the strap for speakerphone and it sounds great! This really took us by surprise.

The camera is built into the strap vs the watch face. This has a balanced opinion from us as it does help reduce the size of the over-all face, however it also prevents you from customizing the watch band in the future (so the color you get is the color you stick with). The camera has a limited 1.9 megapixel resolution, but performs *very* well for it’s limitation. We have used a lot of pin-hole/spy type cameras (example) in our goofy nature around the office and although they are all lot’s of fun, the picture quality usually…well, sucks. The Galaxy Gear‘s camera isn’t exactly as small as some of those tiny cameras but it’s also not much larger than them. For the size and resolution, the images it takes are more than acceptable. Enough to say it really surprised us and forced us to play micro photographer around the room. Sadly we did NOT copy the images off before returning to the office (complete fail on our part). It also offers the ability for video but at only 15 seconds a shot. All of this can be sent over to your phone though which is nice (vs having to live on the watch…which is still an option).

Sadly, the notifications are minimally informative at most. This was a disadvantage that bothered us. It does display text messages which is nice, as you don’t have to take out your phone unless you want to respond. It’s also very covert to be able to glance at your watch instead of pulling out your phone (useful if you’re at work and don’t want to look unproductive). Any other notifications however are simply that…a notification without a preview. We hope Samsung looks further into this as it feels a little pointless. If you go out of your way to receive twitter notifications…simply telling you that you have received a direct tweet/message only re-enforces the urge to pull out your phone (it’s about as effective as your phone chirping in your pocket).

Pretty much any changes to the device requires your phone. We really didn’t feel that it was a bad thing though, since it’s a lot easier to configure such settings on a larger screen anyway. Samsung may look into that in the future (maybe the chance of offering the choice), but they haven’t commented on it just yet.

There is a lack of available applications but we invite you to point out any 1st generation device that didn’t come with that disadvantage. It’s Samsung, so you know there is more than a good chance that there will be a lot of applications coming in the near future, as well as some neat features.

At the moment it only supports the Galaxy Note 3 and the latest  (2014 Edition) Note 10.1. Samsung said they will indeed work hard at supporting additional devices in future updates (software). Again, it’s Samsung so we wouldn’t fret too much about it. However of course, if you do NOT have one of the compatible choices at this time, it’s probably best that you don’t go out and buy one of these just yet. Just saying.

Battery life doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem, however you will want to charge it at the end of the day. As long as it can keep up with the phone, that’s all that matters. We can’t wait for better battery life in all devices in general.

We do believe that $299 is a tough price. We haven’t been big fans of the latest price craze when it comes to mobile tech. We firmly believe that a lot of companies are simply asking too much for their devices than the average consumer wants to spend.

Our Conlusion

It may not be the perfect solution for the intended concept but it’s a good start. A lot of people have shared their mixed opinions about Samsung’s new Galaxy Gear Smartwatch but after playing with it for awhile we have to admit it actually has a lot of potential. It simply depends on how well Samsung maintains their dedication and support for it. Consider when the first iPhone was released…it has a lot of known flaws. Flaws that today would cause us to gasp in horror (some of us). We strongly believe that the same goes for the Galaxy Gear. What happened to the iOS when they noticed there was a lot of backlash due to the lack of support for certain features? They continued to develop and add to it. They listened….sort of.

It is still new and the first generation of it’s kind. They beat Apple to the punch and are the first to pull off a Smartwatch. That also means they are the first to get fired at with criticism and will be used in all comparisons from this point forward, as long as they “listen” and improve, software updates can/will only make it better.

As we mentioned, the price tag is a little high for our expectations. The price will eventually come down but for now it remains in the category of “too expensive”. This fact alone weighs heavy on our rating.

Until the price drops (we’d like to see around $150) and Samsung supplies updates to the functions and app market…we give the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch a 6 out of 10. It isn’t the best rating, but it also isn’t the worst and it has plenty of potential of getting better. If they supply the changes we mentioned, you can consider it a 7 out of 10 (anything further would require hardware upgrades, such as the battery or software enhancements that make us giggle in excitement).

6 / 10 stars           

Additional Images:
Galaxy Gear SmartwatchSamsung Galaxy Gear Samsung Galaxy Gear Samsung Galaxy Gear

Are you a manufacturer or vendor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.

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About Author

James

Designer, Editor and Reviewer for Poc Network, ProAudio and Mobile Nations.

James enjoys spending most of his time as an audio engineer and technician for the live music industry when he isn’t running around the office here juggling an intense workload. He can also be found frequently in the nearby mountainous ranges, scrambling rocks and rappelling down large sections.

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